The Pleasures of Contamination
Evidence, Text, and Voice in Textual Studies
Published by: Indiana University Press
Through the concept of contamination, David Greetham highlights various ways that one text may invade another, carrying with it a residue of potential meaning. While the focus of this study is on written works, the scope ranges widely over music, politics, art, science, philosophy, religion, and social studies. Greetham argues that this sort of contamination is not only ubiquitous in contemporary culture, but may also be a necessary and beneficial circumstance. Tracing contamination from the Middle Ages onward, he takes up issues such as the placement of quote marks in Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn," the controversy over the use of evidence for "yellowcake" uranium in Niger, and the reconstitution of reality on YouTube, to illustrate that the basic questions of evidence, fact, and voice have always been slippery concepts.
"As the first release in the 'Textual Cultures: Theory and Praxis' series, which was created as a complement to the journal Textual Cultures (2006- ), this volume connects medieval studies to postmodernism as it theorizes textual scholarship. Greetham (CUNY Graduate School; founder, Society for Textual Scholarship) is known for his expertise in scholarly editing, and this book is particularly impressive in its engaging style and wide-ranging scope. The author theorizes the complexities and joys of textual scholarship informed by awareness of open-ended influences, allusions, transpositions, and palimpsests—textual connections that Greetham labels 'contamination.' Divided into three parts (the evidence, text, and voice of the subtitle), the book unpacks many of the challenges and possibilities open to textual scholars when their work is understood as critical and interpretive rather than objective. In each of the 12 chapters, Greetham moves beyond disciplinary boundaries, astutely connecting textual scholarship to diverse fields such as music, biology, television, film, law, and politics. He thus not only discusses but also enacts 'the pleasures of contamination' as he brings various discourses together. The writing throughout is smart and fun. . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. —Choice"~L. McMillan, Marywood University
". . . particularly impressive in its engaging style and wide-ranging scope ... The writing throughout is smart and fun. . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. July 2011"~Choice